A national scorecard released today by the independent Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC) grades the nearly 20 state shared renewable energy programs (aka community renewables or community solar). IREC’s National Shared Renewables Scorecard uses specific criteria to evaluate how each program stacks up to national best practices and one another.
“More states are adopting shared renewable energy programs as a means to ensure more consumers can benefit from clean, renewable energy—including lower income households, multi-family dwellers and underserved communities,” says IREC president/CEO Larry Sherwood. “And they are realizing the economic and environmental benefits of these programs.”
“States play an important role in scaling successful shared renewables programs that benefit customers and increase the amount of clean energy on the electric grid,” says IREC regulatory director Sara Baldwin Auck. “IREC’s National Scorecard offers a glimpse into how states are performing relative to best practices and each other, shedding light on strengths and opportunities for improvement.”
The scorecard grades 17 active shared renewables programs in 13 states plus Washington, D.C. Three additional states—Illinois, New Jersey and Oregon—are in the process of implementing new programs and are not yet graded. The details of all state programs are available in IREC’s free Shared Renewables Policy Catalog. In addition to mandatory statewide programs, utilities in more than half of U.S. states are voluntarily creating shared solar programs.
Building off the first annual scorecard IREC released in 2017, the 2018 scorecard uses updated criteria to better reflect evolving program components and market viability. For example, toward a measure of overall program performance, extra credit is now given to programs that have installed at least 10 MW of projects. Additionally, the 2018 scorecard includes a new scoring metric to capture the various ways states are providing direct economic benefits to program subscribers.
“IREC’s scoring criteria reflect how shared renewable energy programs are performing—not just in terms of what policies and rules are in place, but also whether the programs are resulting in projects getting built and customers participating,” says Mari Hernandez, program manager with IREC. “Importantly, some external factors not reflected in the scorecard grades impact how well a program performs, such as land use policies and rate design.”
GRADE SUMMARY (percentage of active programs)
- A grades (12%)—Minnesota and New York. These states have incorporated the majority of identified shared renewables best practices.
- B grades (29%)—California (Virtual Net Metering), Colorado, Washington, D.C., Massachusetts (Virtual Net Metering) and Maryland. Although these states have some room for improvement, their programs reflect many best practices and offer solid foundations for shared renewable energy development.
- C grades (47%)—Connecticut (Virtual Net Metering), Delaware, Hawaii, Massachusetts (Neighborhood Net Metering), Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont. These programs lack the key program components necessary for successful market development.
- D grades (12%)—California (Enhanced Community Renewables component of Green Tariff Shared Renewables) and Connecticut (Shared Clean Energy Facility Pilot Program). These programs do not comport with many of the identified best practices, which could impede program effectiveness and market development.
What others are saying about IREC’s Shared Renewables Scorecard:
“The community solar industry is investing billions of dollars in leading states like Minnesota, Massachusetts and New York, providing tens of thousands of customers bill savings and access to local community solar. Tools like the IREC Scorecard can help lead other states to achieve the same economic, jobs, grid and environmental benefits by identifying program areas in need of improvement and allowing new state programs to learn from the best practices of leading markets.”
Jeff Cramer, executive director at the Coalition for Community Solar Access
“IREC’s Shared Renewables Scorecard is essential in our advocacy for inclusive community solar programs that truly serve all households, regardless of income or other financial barriers. This tool shows us where states are leading on community solar and expanding clean energy access through effective program design. It also helps us hold elected officials and other decision-makers accountable for community solar programs that give everyone the opportunity to participate in and benefit from clean, local and affordable energy.”
Marta Tomic, community solar program director at Vote Solar
“As more states take action to increase access to clean energy for more people, community solar, with targeted policy and programmatic focus on serving low- to moderate-income consumers, continues to be a proven model. IREC’s National Shared Renewables Scorecard provides insight into how state programs stack up, particularly as it relates to serving and positively impacting these communities at scale.”
Tom Figel, community solar policy and regulatory manager at GRID Alternatives
More information and key takeaways from IREC’s 2018 National Shared Renewables Scorecard.
News item from IREC